US 7265527 B1
A self-oscillating DCM is disclosed comprising two inductors that charge and discharge 180 degrees out of phase such that the charging inductor is conducting an upward ramping current and the discharging inductor is conducting a downward ramping current. A load receives the upward and downward ramping currents, which combine to create a constant current. The current source that powers the DCM is current limited so as to output a maximum direct current of IIN. A relatively small capacitor is connected across the input terminals of the DCM and allows the inductors to ramp up to a peak current of 2*IIN. Since the current source only supplies the ramping current to one of the inductors at a time up to 2*IIN, and the average current conducted by each inductor is IIN, the current supplied by the current source is a constant IIN. However, since the inductors simultaneously supply two oppositely ramping currents to the load, the load current is a constant current equal to 2*IIN. So the DCM doubles the supply current and halves the average input voltage.
1. A current generating circuit comprising:
a first current source generating a substantially constant input current IIN; and
a direct current multiplier (DCM) having input terminals connected to receive the constant input current IIN, the DCM comprising:
a capacitor coupled across the DCM input terminals;
a switching circuit comprising a first transistor and a second transistor that are connected to have opposite states;
a first inductor coupled between the first transistor and a first terminal of a load, the first inductor conducting a ramping current to the load through the first transistor up until a peak current when the first transistor is turned on, the first transistor and the second transistor being connected such that the first transistor turns off when the first inductor conducts the peak current;
a second inductor coupled between the second transistor and the first terminal of the load, the second inductor conducting a ramping current to the load through the second transistor up until a peak current when the second transistor is turned on, the first transistor and the second transistor being connected such that the second transistor turns off when the second inductor conducts the peak current;
a first rectifying element coupled to the first inductor, the first rectifying element conducting a discharge current through the first inductor and the load when the first transistor is turned off; and
a second rectifying element coupled to the second inductor, the second rectifying element conducting a discharge current through the second inductor and the load when the second transistor is turned off;
the capacitor, first transistor, second transistor, first inductor, second inductor, first rectifying element, and second rectifying element forming a self-resonating circuit when the load is connected to the first inductor and second inductor,
wherein the direct current multiplier generates a current through the load that is substantially double the input current IIN supplied by the current source.
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20. A current multiplication technique comprising:
generating a substantially constant input current IIN by a first current source;
self-oscillating a switching circuit comprising a first transistor and a second transistor so that the first transistor and the second transistor have opposite states;
conducting a ramping current through a first inductor to a load through the first transistor up until a peak current when the first transistor is turned on;
turning off the first transistor and turning on the second transistor when the first inductor conducts the peak current;
conducting a ramping current through the second inductor to the load through the second transistor up until a peak current when the second transistor is turned on;
turning off the second transistor and turning on the first transistor when the second inductor conducts the peak current;
conducting a discharge current through the first inductor, a first rectifying element, and the load when the first transistor is turned off; and
conducting a discharge current through the second inductor, a second rectifying element, and the load when the second transistor is turned off;
wherein the first transistor, second transistor, first inductor, second inductor, first rectifying element, and second rectifying element form a self-resonating circuit when the load is connected to the first inductor and second inductor, and
wherein the direct current multiplier generates a current through the load that is substantially double the input current IIN supplied by the current source.
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This invention relates to current converter technology and, in particular, to a direct current multiplier (DCM) that generates very low noise.
Various techniques are known to multiply a current. A current multiplier generates a current at an output that is higher than the current supplied by the power supply. Since power is conserved, an increased current output results in an output voltage that is lower than the input voltage.
Some current multipliers use a pulsed switching technique controlled by an oscillator, where large filters are used to convert a pulsed waveform into a DC current. Such pulsed multipliers generate electromagnetic interference (EMI) and other electrical noise and are relatively large. One such multiplier is a switch-mode DC-DC converter. In some situations, a substantially noiseless converter is required, precluding the use of a switch-mode converter.
A CUK converter is a special topology of DC/DC converter which uses inductive and capacitive energy transfer to generate an output current, with the advantage of low ripple current at the input when supplying a constant load current at the output. For a simple CUK converter, two inductors, a large coupling capacitor, an output filter capacitor, a switch transistor, a diode, and its control circuit are needed. The coupling capacitor must be relatively large for medium and high load currents.
In one example of the need for a current multiplier, a high brightness light emitting diode (LED) only needs a small voltage (e.g., 3.4 volts) but a fairly high current. If the power source is a 12 volt car battery, a converter is used to supply the required current through the LED at 3.4 volts. An idealized converter will thus multiply the current drawn from the battery by 12/3.4. However, known converters generate noise (e.g., a switching converter) or require large coupling capacitors (e.g., CUK converter).
What is needed is a direct current multiplier that is simple, small, and does not generate substantial noise to both the power supply and the load.
A self-oscillating DCM is disclosed comprising two inductors that charge and discharge 180 degrees out of phase such that the charging inductor is conducting an upward ramping current and the discharging inductor is conducting a downward ramping current. A switching circuit alternately charges and discharges the inductors. A small capacitor is connected across the DCM input terminals. A load receives the upward and downward ramping currents, which combine to create a constant current. A filter capacitor is not needed to filter the inductor waveforms into the load.
The current source that powers the DCM is current limited so as to output a constant maximum current of IIN. By using a preferred capacitor value across the DCM input terminals, the peak current conducted by each of the inductors is 2*IIN. The average current through each inductor is IIN. The capacitor charges when the inductor ramping current is below IIN and discharges into the inductor when the inductor ramping current is greater than IIN. Since the current source only supplies the ramping current to one of the inductors at a time, while the capacitor is charging and discharging to make up the difference between the ramping current and the supply current, the current supplied by the current source is a constant IIN. Since the inductors simultaneously supply two oppositely ramping currents to the load, while one inductor is charging through the load and the other inductor is discharging through the load, the load current is a constant current substantially equal to 2*IIN. So the DCM effectively doubles the supply current and halves the average voltage from the input to the load.
DCMs may be cascaded to further multiply the current.
FIGS. 3 and 4A-4D assume a capacitor C1 value of 330 nF and inductor values of 100 μH. The capacitor value is high enough to receive current from the current source and supply current to the inductors to enable the inductors to reach the full peak current of 2*IIN per inductor. With significantly smaller values of the capacitor, current to the load will still be doubled, but peak current will decrease and ripple will increase along with other parameters changing.
A rule of thumb to determine a preferred capacitor C1 value may use the following relationship: C1≦L*(IL)2/(VL)2, where L=L1=L2.
If the capacitor value is much larger than the rule of thumb value, the peak inductor current could be more than double the input current.
A current source supplies an input current IIN to node 18 at a voltage of VIN (step 19).
It will be assumed that the cross-coupled PMOS transistors Q1 and Q2 are in a state where Q1 is on and Q2 is off. In step 20 of
Prior to inductor L1 being charged, it is assumed inductor L2 had been charged from the previous switching cycle until its current I2 reached 2*IIN. While transistor Q1 is on and inductor L1 is being charged, transistor Q2 is off, and inductor L2 is discharging though the circuit formed by LED 16 and the forward biased diode D2 (step 24). The diodes D1 and D2 are preferably Schottky diodes to achieve a low forward drop. Alternatively synchronous rectifiers may be used to achieve virtually zero voltage drop. As inductor L2 is discharging, the voltage at node 25 is one diode drop below ground. The inductor L2 discharges at the same rate at which it was charged, so it generates a ramping down current, as shown in
The capacitor C1 stores charge (indicated as a positive current IC in
As shown in step 26, the total current supplied through the LED 16 from inductors L1 and L2 is a steady 2*IIN. The combined inductor waveforms are shown in
If the inductor values are not equal, they will behave differently. The basic function of the DCM will be the same, but the current transmission ratio IL/IIN will be less than 2. For adjusting the output current, it is better to adjust the input current rather than using unmatched inductor values.
When the ramping current I1 reaches its possible maximum (in this case 2*IIN), the ramping will stop, and the voltage at node 22 will drop to approximately the voltage at node 28 (due to v=Ldi/dt). It is assumed in the example that the LED 16 is dropping 3.4 volts, so the voltage at node 28 is 3.4 volts. Since the gate voltage of transistor Q2 is now well below its source voltage of 6.8 volts (because the DCM is a current doubler), transistor Q2 will turn on, which raises the voltage at node 25 to approximately 6.8 volts to turn off transistor Q1 (step 32).
Now that transistors Q1 and Q2 have changed states, inductor L1 discharges (step 34) through the LED 16 and diode D1 is forward biased, and inductor L2 charges (step 36) due to the series connection of transistor Q2, inductor L2, and LED 16. Since diode D1 is now forward biased, the voltage at node 22 is pulled down to one diode drop below ground. The inductor waveforms are shown in
As soon as inductor L2 conducts 2*IIN, the voltage at node 25 goes low to switch transistors Q1 and Q2, and the self-resonating process repeats (step 40). For an optimized value of the capacitor C1, the time for one half cycle can be calculated (idealized) as TH=L*ΔI1/VL, where L is the inductance of either matched inductor, IL is the load current, ΔI1 is the inductor current change (equal to 2*IIN), and VL is the voltage across the load (equal to the driving voltage across the inductors). Therefore, the oscillator frequency is f=1/(2*TH)=VL/(2*L*ΔI1)=VL/(4*L*IIN). For the component values mentioned above, the oscillating frequency can be estimated to be about 40-50 kHz.
Since only one inductor is being charged at a time, the current drawn from the current source 12 (
Since the current is doubled, and the voltage across the LED 16 is 3.4 volts at the double current, the average voltage at the input node 18 is about 6.8 volts. Because of the charging and discharging of the capacitor C1, the voltage at the input node 18 will contain some ripple, where the ripple magnitude is dependent on the component values used in the DCM.
The small capacitor C1 connected across the DCM input terminals helps start the oscillator, stabilizes the oscillator, prevents switching noise being reflected back to the current source, affects settling time, affects peak inductor current, affects efficiency, and affects ripple of the load current. The value of capacitor C1 may be optimized for a desired inductor peak current (e.g., 2*IIN). As a result, the LED current and the input current to the DCM have very low ripple. Any ripple can be further reduced by providing a capacitor across the load.
The current source 12 (
The LDO regulator 42 output voltage will have a ripple, with the average voltage being about twice the load voltage.
LDO regulators are less efficient than switch-mode converters at medium to high current levels due to the voltage drop across the series transistor (power loss=voltage drop multiplied by current). Since the power wasted by an LDO regulator is directly proportional to the current conducted by the series transistor, reducing the current through the series transistor by one-half doubles the efficiency of the circuit of
The LDO regulator 42 and DCM 10 may be integrated on a single chip. However, inductors will usually be provided external to the chip. The inductors are not magnetically coupled. If Schottky diodes D1 and D2 were augmented with synchronous rectifiers (switched transistors with zero voltage drop), the DCM would have virtually 100% efficiency and a current transfer ratio IL/IIN of 2. The synchronous rectifiers may be NMOS transistors Q3 and Q4 whose gates are coupled to the respective gates of PMOS transistors Q1 and Q2 such that, when a high signal applied to the gate of transistor Q1 turns transistor Q1 off, the high signal applied to the NMOS transistor Q3 switches transistor Q3 on. Conversely, when a high signal applied to the gate of transistor Q2 turns transistor Q2 off, the high signal applied to the NMOS transistor Q4 switches transistor Q4 on. The transistors and couplings would be designed to prevent shoot-through current. The oppositely switching transistor pairs Q1/Q3 and Q2/Q4 in
A synchronous rectifier may instead be formed as a transistor which is switched on or off based on a polarity of the voltage across its terminals.
Circuit simulations confirmed that the efficiency of the DCM can be as high as 99.8%, providing an actual current transfer ratio of about 1.99.
The current-limited current supply 42 in
The DCM can even be driven by solar cells or other current generators.
Instead of the load being an LED or other conventional load (resistive or non-linear), the DCM may drive a conventional LDO regulator, which outputs a regulated voltage to a load. The LDO regulator drives the load at twice the input current of the DCM. Such an arrangement allows one to supply the DCM (located in-between) by a non-current-limited voltage source/battery because the load current normally is set by the LDO regulator's regulated voltage divided by the load resistance (IL=VL/RL). For stable behavior, because of voltage ripple injected into the capacitor C1, the DCM should be decoupled from the battery by, for example, a diode.
Various other switching arrangements may be used.
The voltage/current source for the DCM may also supply a voltage that is negative with respect to ground. It would be understood that, since the direction of current flow would be reversed, the applicable components (e.g., diodes, LED) would have to be connected in opposite directions, and opposite type transistor would be used. The operation of the DCM will be the same. Alternatively, the negative current source may be connected to the ground terminal in the various figures, with the other terminal connected to ground.
Having described the invention in detail, those skilled in the art will appreciate that given the present disclosure, modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and inventive concepts described herein. Therefore, it is not intended that the scope of the invention be limited to the specific embodiments illustrated and described.